Waiting For Mr. Jordan
CNN Lies About Iraq
By Mike Sawin
In an op-ed piece for the New York Times, Eason Jordan
wrote a column called "The News We Kept To Ourselves." CNN withheld horrific news stories from Iraq,
stories that would confirm our greatest fears of what was going on over there. This appeared on Friday, April 11th.
is the chief news executive and newsgathering president for CNN, the Cable News Network. He oversees CNN's worldwide news
coverage and the network's editorial policy. If anyone knows what's going on at CNN, it's this guy.
Just in case you think I may be exaggerating, you can view Mr. Jordan's
column for yourself by going to the New York Times' website: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/11/opinion/11JORD.html
CNN witnessed and received first-hand reports of torture, assassinations, and
other atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein and his designates.
They've known about this and covered it up for more than ten years. Mr. Jordan
claims that they didn't report this news from Iraq because
he was afraid that people might get hurt or killed.
Instead, CNN stayed silent and observed as other people were hurt and killed.
And they did that for ten years.
Bob Garfield, host of NPR's radio show called On The Media, interviewed
Mr. Jordan on October
25th, 2002. The New Republic magazine had just run an article that was critical of news organizations, CNN
in particular, for appeasing Iraqi officials so they could stay in the country. Mr. Jordan
said the following:
"...CNN has demonstrated again and again that it has a spine; that it's prepared
to be forthright..."
"...we work very hard to report forthrightly, to report fairly and to report
accurately and if we ever determine we cannot do that, then we would not want to be there; but we do think that some light
is better than no light whatsoever..."
"We've [CNN] had a bureau there [in Iraq] for 12 years with occasional interruptions
when we've been thrown out, but we're not there to please the Iraqi government -- we're not there to displease the Iraqi government
-- we're just there to do our job."
"We'd very much like to be there if there's a second war; but-- we are not going
to make journalistic compromises in an effort to make that happen..."
"We want to be there if we can be there and operate as a responsible news organization."
If you think I've taken these quotes of context, I invite you to read the transcript
of the interview, which you can find on the internet at this address: http://www.wnyc.org/onthemedia/transcripts_102502_jordan.html
In October 2002, Mr. Jordan
says that CNN has a spine, and that they didn't appease the Iraqi government. But in April 2003, he says that he was afraid
the some of their employees might have been hurt or killed if CNN ran the stories.
Mr. Jordan even
talks about harassment and threats made by Iraqi officials to him and other journalists, as recorded in the Washington Times
on Saturday, April 12, 2003. You can read that article here: http://washtimes.com/national/20030412-64366560.htm
Perhaps they could get James Earl Jones back in the studio to record "This is
CNN, please don't hurt us."
CNN displayed its impressive courage with diligent coverage of Saddam Hussein's
65th birthday party, which Mr. Jordan defends as a newsworthy event. If you want to see it for yourself, here's where you
can find that story: http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/04/28/iraq.birthday/
CNN stood by silently as hundreds, perhaps thousands of others went to their
death or torment, but man, they nailed that birthday party. What intestinal fortitude!
Mr. Jordan blames
the Iraqis, of course.
But somewhere along the way, the people at CNN who held back the truth have to
take some responsibility. They were there. They saw it firsthand. They said nothing.
I'm optimistic enough to believe that if CNN had told the story, fewer people
would have suffered, because the rest of the world might have stepped in.
I'm optimistic enough to believe that if the truth had been told, France,
and Russia may have reconsidered engaging in trade with Saddam,
thus keeping him in power.
However, I'm cynical enough to believe that CNN didn't report these stories because
they would lose standing in Iraq.
"The Most Trusted Name In News" had unparalleled access to Iraqi officials, and
if CNN had broadcast the truth, they would have lost their place -- and keeping that place was important to them.
CNN has had some tough times the past few years. Fox News surpassed them in the
ratings and frequently trounces CNN across the board. They've had to downsize, they've lost money and prestige.
Their access to Iraqi officials is one of CNN's biggest assets, and they did
what they could to defend that asset.
The proof of that assertion is in their archives for anyone to see -- they told
stories that Saddam's people wanted them to. Further proof is in Mr. Jordan's
own words: they didn't tell the truth about the atrocities they witnessed.
So I'm waiting, Mr. Jordan.
The families of the tortured and murdered are waiting too. What do you say to them? You said that you were there to do your
job, which is to report the news. If murders, assassinations and torture aren't news, could you please tell me what is?